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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas – When DuPont Beaumont FCU and Goodrich Community FCU decided to merge, the last thing either expected to have to deal with among their merger preparations was a Category 3 hurricane. Hurricane Rita not only didn’t put the brakes on the merger, but thanks to recovery efforts by the Texas Credit Union League, the newly merged CU is continuing to operate. The day after Rita hit, DuPont Beaumont FCU President/CEO Jada Kelley began working with TCUL to begin setting up workspace and necessary equipment at the League’s facility in Farmers Branch that allowed the CUs’ IT departments to get their data processing systems running, and by the following Monday they were operational. During the following week, Kelley met with the management teams of both CUs in Dallas and began operating out of a Call Center set up by the League. The merger originally scheduled for Oct. 1, also went off as planned. The $82 million DuPont Beaumont, based in Nederland, and $43 million Goodrich Community, headquartered in Port Neches, are now known as DuPont Goodrich FCU. The one step in the conversion process that Rita did impact though was the merger of the credit unions’ data processing systems. Senior VP Lisa Baione said the data conversion has been postponed until a later date, probably Oct. 31. “Thanks to (Texas League President/CEO) Richard Ensweiler’s compassion and concern for credit unions and their members, thousands of Southeast Texas evacuees have had access to their funds immediately after Rita raged through the Golden Triangle Area,” said Baione. “The League provided us with a wealth of resources that allowed all area credit unions to put their disaster recovery plans into place.” Baione said part of the success of setting up the disaster recovery plan and finalizing the merger was due to the advance planning DuPont Beaumont did when the storm was predicted. The CU ran an ad in the local newspaper with information for members of both CUs on where to call if the offices became inoperable. She said the League started receiving calls “instantly” and has been getting 800-1,000 calls a day since from members with contact information. In fact, TCUL’s Sue Epperson, administrator of executive offices, was soon taking so many calls that the League decided to assign a private extension exclusively for DuPont and Goodrich members. One of the next things DuPont Goodrich FCU is working on getting done is issuing new debit cards to Goodrich Community members. Baione said DuPont Goodrich will not send out new cards until all 20,000 members have been contacted and their addresses confirmed. Until then, the members will be able to continue to use their old debit cards. Baione said she had no estimate on the date they’ll expire. In addition to these post-Rita efforts, DuPont Goodrich has been wiring money free of charge to members, waived all ATM usage fees, NSF and courtesy fees until all the CU’s branches are reopened. It’s also deferred loan payments for 30 days. At press time, Baione said DuPont Goodrich had four branches open in Beaumont, Lumberton, Vidor and Orange. She added that the CU is working “around the clock” to open two more including the headquarters and hoped to get electricity running in those by the weekend. The student-run high school branch at West-Brooke H.S. won’t reopen though until the school reopens. “Karen Hart, CFO of the Texas League and her entire staff have been so accommodating. From providing computers, printers and fax machines, to coffee, homemade cookies and words of encouragement. The outreach and concern has been heartwarming. The League has set a wonderful example of what a league can do for the credit union movement,” said Baione. -

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